Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Checking Out

This weekend I ran the Flagline 50k on Mt Bachelor. The weather forecast was reasonably kind, low 50's, rain later, little wind. But as my CT running and hiking friends will confirm, mountain weather isn't sea level weather. Arriving at a windswept, sleeting start, it was clear that a tee and shorts wasn't going to cut it. Even Coach Dion might have worn a long sleeved! Throw in the 2000m above seal level start line and it was going to be a tough morning.

By 10k in it was snowing properly and minus degrees. The weather didn't get any worse but it could have done, and given the small field and reasonably small number of aid stations (5 for 50k), if I or any other runner had fallen and been stationary for any amount of time, it would have been a difficult situation with no dry and warm clothing.

It looked a bit like this on Sunday, but with some snow!
But this is the US, and there appears to be no kit checks, no mandatory gear requirements, and here at least, no check in for runners. How many started? Impossible to know. So we started with, yes, guys in tee shirts and shorts ONLY. No space blankets, charged cell phones, energy bars or whistles! A far cry from 'tough' SA trail races in much better conditions, with at least as experienced runners.

I have no idea if everyone got off the mountain safely. MY hands and feet were frozen, I couldn't eat, probably due to the altitude (2000m), and I didn't drop primarily because it was warmer to keep running. If i had I hope I could have jumped into someone's car and turned the heating full up! But I might also have been an hour from any warmth or help.

No weather recorded. Just as well

I don't think the weather was particularly exceptional, just a normal day in the snow zone in Fall as the seasons change. And maybe American trail runners are less pampered and better equipped to look after themselves than in countries where there are more checks and balances in places.

As ever the race was well organised, great aid stations and volunteers who has to cope with the weather for upto 6 hours on non-moving mode. Post race we received a pint of beer and copious burritos with meat, salmon, beans and rice, all provided by another volunteer/sponsor who was there in biting cold for hours on end.

I hate to run with any kit, weight, bottles, bags and paraphernalia, but I'm not sure I or any runner is the best judge of what it is and isn't safe to carry on a run, in the mountains, close to zero, on uneven terrain. But we are all adults so I guess we have to take responsibility for our own safety.

1 comment:

  1. Yes Table Mountain is only 1089m and we only really have cold weather is Winter, but I alway try and get out on the weekend that I can... while I don't run with a shirt on (except races) I always have a few things in my pack or bum bag. thinks like a phone and a Hellium jacket!!!